Roof Insulation Getting Greener
A ban on the production of chemicals used in the manufacture of certain roofing insulation products puts the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) one step closer toward compliance with an international environmental treaty.
For facilities, that means nearly all of the polyisocyanurate insulation installed in roofing systems this year and afterward will no longer contain the chemical. Polyiso insulation, as it is also known, is used in a wide range of facility roofing systems.
Polyiso has more than twice the R-value rating of wood fiber and perlite, two other insulation materials.
The EPA banned the production and import of one type of hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) at the start of the year. The chemical, HCFC-141b, is used as a blowing agent in the manufacture of polyiso. Over time, the HCFCs escape from the insulation, entering the atmosphere and posing a threat to the stratospheric ozone layer.
Environmentally safe alternatives, such as carbon dioxide, hydrocarbons and hydrofluorocarbons, will serve as blowing agents instead.
Despite the ban, which was imposed by the EPA to meet terms contained in the Montreal Protocol, some polyiso insulation manufacturers will continue using HCFC-141b until inventories are depleted.
Only a handful of manufacturers had started making HCFC-free polyiso insulation when the EPA ban took effect Jan. 1. By midyear, most polyiso manufacturers are expected to be making HCFC-free products, says Paul Bertram, who developed content for Green Zone, a Web site funded by polyiso manufacturers who have already stopped using HCFC-141b.
Both HCFC-free insulation and insulation containing the chemical improve the thermal efficiency of roofing systems.
“We think owners need to be aware of what’s being used in their roofing systems,” Bertram says. “It is something going on in the industry that affects them.”
HCFC-141b is the first on the list of the HCFCs to be banned from production. Its ozone depletion potential of .11, measured from .01 to 1.0, makes it the highest among all HCFCs. Over the next 30 years, all HCFCs are scheduled to be phased out of production in accordance with the Montreal Protocol.
Signed by more than 100 nations, the protocol specifies manufacturing bans on substances following certain dates. The United States signed the treaty in 1987.
New Space Still Plagues Real Estate
With the average vacancy rate hovering near 18 percent in 2002 and not expected to budge much this year, many experts are pointing their fingers at the economy.
But a new report from Merrill Lynch says it isn’t just the economy that’s going to contribute to a slow real estate recovery. Even though the pipeline of new buildings expected in 2003 is only a third of its former flow, it will continue to push up vacancies and push down net absorption to near zero and even into negative numbers.
The report, “Tracking Major Office Markets in North America,” is a survey of statistics from 30 organizations.
SLEEP IS GOOD Energy wasted by idle computers costs facilities about $900 million a year, says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. A significant portion of that can be saved by applying Energy Star’s EZ Safe software. The software allows computer monitors in entire networks to go into low-power sleep mode during periods of inactivity. The software is part of the Million Monitor Drive. About 728,000 monitors have powered down thus far. One company involved, Cisco Systems, expects to save more than $500,000 annually.
ADA SPOTLIGHT ON THEATERS A recent court decision has found AMC’s stadium-style seating violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. Phillip Nichols, with the law firm of Pircher, Nichols & Meeks, says many theaters will have to change their wheelchair seating if the decision is affirmed on appeal. The ruling states that theaters that provide wheelchair seating only at the front of the theater violate ADA’s requirement of comparable lines of sight. Nichols urges retail owners to check their leases to make sure tenants are responsible for renovations.